Interview with Matt
Soper (BS '89) is the Senior Minister for the West Houston Church
of Christ. Pictured with Matt are his wife Angela and their daughters,
did you first get involved with Austin Graduate School of Theology?
I attended Austin Grad (then the Institute for
Christian Studies) from 1987-1989. I had become a Christian right
before I graduated
from college with a business degree in 1984, and after a few years
in the business
world I decided to take a year’s leave and get a degree in Bible.
One year stretched to two and I never went back! ICS/AGST helped
me develop a solid theological foundation and also helped me articulate
a call to
full-time ministry in the local church.
2) What are some characteristics that
first attracted you to Austin Grad?
The smallness, the quality of the faculty,
and the unique degree program. James Thompson (then president of
ICS) personally helped
me work through my questions about leaving the business world and was extremely
encouraging of me. ICS/AGST’s location next to the University of
Texas conveyed that this would be a stimulating and challenging environment
in which to pursue biblical studies and ministry training.
3) What was the catalyst in your decision
to begin supporting Austin Grad financially?
I made my first three-year pledge while I was still a student: $12
a month! I was that enthusiastic and grateful for what ICS/AGST had
done in my life. After that three-year pledge period was over, during which
I was in graduate school, I increased my monthly giving and have
monthly ever since, trying to increase it each year.
4) In what ways do you see Austin Grad
impacting the kingdom of God?
AGST enjoys a very good reputation among
ministers in the churches of Christ. Through the degree programs,
the sermon seminar, and the
articles in Christian Studies, many ministers and Christians are compelled
to think deeply and biblically about the church’s mission in the
5) Are there any benefits to you personally
of supporting Austin Grad?
I derive a feeling of great satisfaction
in supporting AGST and knowing that each dollar is spent carefully
and responsibly. The school is
small enough that every donor can be assured his/her support is making a difference.
6) What would you say to someone who
is considering supporting Austin Grad?
Your investment in supporting theological education and the training
of ministers and church leaders will be one of the best stewardship
decisions you make.